How Arthritis Sufferers Can Enjoy the Holidays and Have Fun

For some of us, the holidays are a reminder of lost or absent loved ones, feelings of loneliness, or financial difficulties and stress. So, it can be a very emotional and stressful time. However, if in addition to the usual stresses of the holiday we add arthritis pain, fatigue and disability, we can find it almost impossible to find any joy in the holidays if we don't make certain decisions. This can be detrimental for an arthritis sufferer's pain and fatigue levels because emotional upheaval is the number one reason why an individual may experience even more pain and sleeplessness.

In addition, there's a lot of pressure to make the Christmas season perfect and to cram it with events, shopping, and parties. But I find that some of the simplest pleasures that aren't expensive at all can make the season bright and fill me with the joy and wonder of Christmas.

Here are 10 simple ideas to get out of the commercialization attached to Christmas. Try a few of them for optimal happiness this holiday.

1. Begin with gratitude

Before you begin handing out the gifts and tearing in to them, take a moment to reflect on all of your blessings since last Christmas. Write them down. Look at all of the good you have in your life and be grateful.

2. Release expectations

Allow this Christmas season to be what it is without expectations or hopes for perfection. We are often disappointed when things don't go "as planned" during the holidays, so plan loosely and remain open to change. Embrace the reality of life as being part of the season.

3. Keep it simple

Part of releasing expectations is simplifying your Christmas season. If you over-schedule yourself with activities, shopping, and travel, you will be stressed and miss out on the peace and beauty of the season.

4. Create and sustain traditions

Traditions during the holidays make us feel connected to one another and to something larger than ourselves. They offer a sense of certainty and comfort. We have a tradition of letting the children open one gift on Christmas Eve, and they always wear fluffy flannel pajamas that night.

5. Entertain without perfection

Sometimes we avoid inviting friends over during the holidays unless everything is perfect – the right meal, the house completely decorated and cleaned, a gift purchased. Let that go and enjoy spontaneous get-togethers to share a meal or simply some time together. Don't miss out on connections with people waiting for perfection.

6. Light candles

The glow of candlelight creates magic and warmth. Light them at dinner, during a bath, or on the mantle. I've put an assortment of candles in the fireplace when it's too warm to light a fire. It creates an oasis of light and peace.

7. Go caroling

Brew up some hot chocolate or apple cider. Get some candles or lanterns. Call a few friends to join you, and walk around your neighborhood and sing. It's really fun – and more fun if you spike the cider!

8. Rediscover the meaning of your life

As things begin to slow down in the days before Christmas and the week after, take some time to reexamine your own life to determine what is truly important to you. Define and uncover your passion and purpose to begin the New Year with a fresh perspective.

9. Reach out to someone lonely

If you know someone alone or lonely this holiday season, connect with them. Invite them over for a meal or include them in a family occasion. The holidays can be very sad for many people, and you can bring a ray of light into their lives.

10. No last minute shopping

If you find yourself without a gift for someone at the last minute, don't rush out and buy something so you won't be empty-handed. Instead, get a "gift card" for someone offering something special they would enjoy – a dinner out, a coupon for chores, a massage or movie. These are usually special gifts.

So, decide which of these simple pleasures to try this Christmas. It will help you to truly enjoy the holidays. And that way, you can take it slow and enjoy the true meaning of Christmas in a way that will be relaxing and sustainable for you.

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